September 26, 2014

AMES, Iowa (AP) Quarterback Bryce Petty and the Baylor offense shredded plenty of Big 12 opponents during a record-setting 2013.

None got it worse than Iowa State.

Baylor handed the Cyclones their biggest loss, a 71-7 blowout that diminished whatever hope Iowa State had for a decent season.

The Cyclones (1-2, 0-1 Big 12) get a chance at payback Saturday at home against the 7th-ranked Bears (3-0, 0-0).

It's hard to find many reasons why this matchup will turn out much different than it did a year ago.

Baylor is again the nation's leader with 59.3 points a game. The Bears have already scored 25 touchdowns and have gained at least 30 yards on 32 plays; an average of more than 10 a game.

Oh, and Baylor is also second in the country in scoring defense.

''It's not much different than it was a year ago, with how they've started and the points they're putting on the board and how quick they're scoring those points,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. ''It's who they are.''

Still, Baylor is ranked just 7th despite outscoring opponents by over 50 points a game

The reason?

It's probably the Bears schedule.

They simply haven't played anyone of note.

Baylor rolled the likes of SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo to open 2014. And though the Cyclones are Baylor's first Big 12 opponent, a win over a team with a losing record won't quite some skeptics.

''I think it's a legitimate question, quite honestly,'' said Baylor coach Art Briles when asked if the Bears need style points in addition to wins. ''At the end of the day, it's still about W's and L's. I don't think there is such thing as a good loss or a bad win.''

Though Iowa State is a heavy underdog, it has steadily improved in each game and is coming off a 20-17 win at rival Iowa.

Here are some of the keys to consider as Baylor opens their quest for a second straight Big 12 title under the lights in Ames.

RUN, BEARS, RUN: Baylor's prolific passing attack wouldn't be so prolific if the Bears struggled to run the ball. They don't. Baylor is averaging over a league-high 238 yards rushing per game with 12 touchdowns, and Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson each have over 200 yards rushing. ''I do know this. They're run first - and as explosive as they are in the pass game, you better stop the run game to be able to have a chance to have overall success against them,'' Rhoads said.

STOUT CYCLONES? Iowa State's defense has answered many of the questions it had before the year started. The defensive line and secondary have been surprisingly solid, and the Cyclones held Iowa to just a field goal in the second half before Cole Netten's 42-yard field goal put them over the top. Iowa State has allowed a respectable 24.5 points per game against Power 5 teams K-State and Iowa.

HEALTHY PETTY: Briles has declared senior quarterback Bryce Petty ''100 percent'' after a back injury forced him to miss the second game of the season. Petty returned against Buffalo on Sept. 13 and threw for 416 and four touchdowns in just three quarters of a 63-21 win. Both Baylor and Iowa State are coming off bye weeks before starting the league season, allowing Petty further time for his back to heal. ''The week off let us all probably settle down a little bit because we've got a big push ahead starting this Saturday,'' Briles said.

CANNON/LAZARD: Saturday's game will offer many fans and TV viewers their first look at two of the nation's top freshman receivers; Baylor's KD Cannon and Iowa State's Allen Lazard. Cannon is putting up staggering numbers for a true freshman with 14 catches for 471 yards. Lazard, one of the biggest recruits in Cyclones history, leads the team with 143 yards receiving on 9 receptions.

SURGING PROGRAM: Baylor's remarkable run since the start of 2013 has obscured the fact that, until recently, the Bears shared more in common with the Cyclones than Big 12 powers like Oklahoma and Texas. Iowa State pounded Baylor 35-21 in its last visit to Ames in 2012 and is 4-1 against the Bears in Ames since Baylor joined the league.

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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